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I’ve written before that reading Salena Zito’s Sunday columns is one of my favorite things to do, mostly because she ventures into flyover country. Salena’s columns are more likely to quote people we’ve never heard of than people we’ve heard of altogether too often. Thank goodness for that. We need that realism. This morning’s column touches on something that Washington hasn’t seen coming:

PLEASANTVILLE, Pa. – The homemade sign along state Route 96 in Bedford County could easily be missed if a driver is distracted by the winding curves at the base of the Allegheny Mountains.

“Our country is dying. Please pray for all of us,” it says in blue letters on a white board. A bouquet of slightly wilted wildflowers is tied to it with a blue bow.

The sign doesn’t blame anyone in particular; no political brand or elected official is named, no familiar tagline from social media or cable news is part of the message. In fact, its poignant words (all lower-case, no wild-hare punctuation) and slightly hidden position in some ways reflect the underground populist movement that this column has warned about for months, moderate in tone, big in impact.

It’s undeniable that people of all political stripes want government to work. It’s also true that they want government to listen to them. DC has stopped doing that:

When Eric Cantor lost his primary race Tuesday, it wasn’t because he wasn’t conservative enough for his base.

It wasn’t because of the Republicans’ tea party element. It had nothing to do with immigration reform, or some Democrat conspiracy to flood the polls. And it was not driven by right-wing talk-radio hosts or operatives from Heritage Action, Club for Growth, Citizens United or ForAmerica (which claimed Cantor’s defeat was an “apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment”).

This was a complicated recipe, according to Republican strategist Bruce Haynes.

“There were more than four-and-twenty blackbirds baked into this pie,” Haynes said, adding that ultimately the loss had everything to do with Cantor: He lost touch with his constituency; he became too Washington, too associated with the D.C.-bubble brand; he forgot how to relate and to be that guy from his district.

Something like that is happening in Minnesota, where the DFL is just waking up to the fact that Iron Rangers are upset that they’re being ignored. They’re being ignored because environmental activists are essentially telling the DFL to ignore the Iron Range.

There’s no question but that these Rangers want a new influx of mining jobs and upper middle class incomes. There’s no question that professional environmental activists hate mining, especially precious metals mining. The DFL is taking the Iron Range vote for granted. That’s the first step in activating populism.

One thing that hurt Eric Cantor the most was that people thought he talked out of both sides of his mouth. He told his constituents that he opposed amnesty, then he supported the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. Technically, Mark Dayton issn’t talking out of both sides of his mouth. He’s just doing whatever he can to not get either side upset.

Al Franken is even more ‘cautious.’ He isn’t saying anything on the subject. Sen. Franken didn’t mention mining during his 26-minute-long acceptance speech. Mining isn’t mentioned on his campaign website, either.

If there’s anything that Eric Cantor’s loss tells us, it’s that ignoring major constituency groups is potentially disastrous politically.

If the “homemade sign along state Route 96 in Bedford County” was found alongside Highway 53 near Eveleth or Virginia, it would read ‘Our way of life is dying an nobody’s listening. Please pray for us.’

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There was a time when Paul Krugman was considered a bight guy, especially when he talked economics. That Krugman doesn’t exist, at least not in public anymore. That Krugman disappeared when he decided it was more important to be a corrupt political hack than to be an expert economist.

Sadly, Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has been Krugman-ized. In his latest article, Ornstein’s disgusting ideology is displayed:

First, it is clear that this moves the Republican Party even further to the right, in approach, attitude and rhetoric. Even if the overwhelming majority of incumbents, including establishment ones, have won renomination, even if broader Republican public opinion is more establishment conservative than Tea Party radical, all it takes is an example or two of the opposite to get all politicians jumping at their shadows and muttering to themselves, “That could happen to me.”

The fact that Ornstein mentions TEA Party radical is proof that Ornstein is a political hack. Here’s what ‘radical’ Dave Brat believes:

We Believe:

That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice,
That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society,
That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government,
That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations,
That peace is best preserved through a strong national defense,
That faith in God, as recognized by our Founding Fathers is essential to the moral fiber of the Nation.

Wow. I instantly felt tormented by Brat’s radicalism after reading those principles. NOT. If that’s Ornstein’s definition of radicalism, then that says that Ornstein’s the radical.

There was a time, back the country functioned properly, when adhering to these principles was totally uncontroversial. Unfortunately, that’s history, at least in the eyes of people like Ornstein, Krugman, not to mention President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Here’s another telling statement from Mr. Ornstein:

Cantor had put out a policy plan for June that has a bunch of symbolic actions and a few real policy advances. Now, that plan will surely be curtailed further. Action means government doing things, and the zeitgeist of the GOP now is not to have government doing anything except self-destructing.

First, Ornstein’s paranoid delusions shouldn’t be taken seriously. Republicans, including TEA Party activists, want government living within the Constitution’s limits. There’s no question that the Constitution is a radical document. It’s the only document like it in the history of the world because it says people give power in limited amounts to the government.

Other country’s governing documents say that a) power originates from the government and b) is given in limited amounts to the governed.

Second, it’s obvious that Ornstein hasn’t noticed that this administration is incredibly inept without the Republicans’ help. Government that’s run by people who love huge government, is utterly incompetent, not to mention totally corrupt.

Mr. Ornstein apparently is too busy criticizing people with legitimate complaints to notice the Obama administration’s ineptitude. He should stop being a political hack and start paying attention more. He’d have more credibility if he did.

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When Dave Brat defeated Eric Cantor last night, it was the stunner of news stories this year. Here’s Brat’s explanation to Sean Hannity on what he did:

Here’s the partial transcript of Hannity’s interview with Brat:

BRAT: I ran on Republican principles. We have this Republican creed in Virginia and the only problem with the Republican principles is no one is following them.

The first one is commitment to free markets. We don’t have any free markets in this country any more. Then equal treatment under the law, fiscal responsibility, constitutional adherence, peace through strong defense and faith in god and strong moral fiber. That’s what I ran on: The Republican creed. But the press is just always out there to have these exciting stories to sell papers, and the people actually do care about policy. When you’re serious… I give 30 minute stump speeches on policy, and the press made fun of me. They said ‘these aren’t good stump speeches. You’re talking serious issues.’ Well, the American people are ready for serious issues.

People bought into Brat’s message because he won by 7,000 votes. Cantor lost because Cantor didn’t take Brat or his district seriously.

One disturbing thing that came out of last night’s coverage is that the celebrity TEA Party organizations didn’t lift a finger to help Brat. Laura Ingraham told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly that Jenny Beth Martin of the TEA Party Patriots, “much to my consternation”, didn’t take Brat’s calls.

The reality is that too many of these ‘official’ TEA Party organizations have drifted from the TEA Party’s principles. Martin didn’t respond to a true TEA Party activist.

I attribute that to a steady drift from TEA Party celebrities from TEA Party principles. Celebrities like Sarah Palin and others endorsed candidates who wouldn’t know the first thing about TEA Party principles. I know because I criticized them months ago when Palin endorsed Julianne Ortman.

I’ve had my own fight with a different TEA Party organization. Specifically, I had a fight with TEA Party Nation. I wrote this post about TPN’s endorsement. Here’s what they said about Sen. Ortman in their endorsement:

She is running and has racked up an impressive series of endorsements. She has been endorsed by our friends at Tea Party Express, the Conservative Campaign Committee, Citizens United and most recently she was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

She is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-low taxes and perhaps most importantly in favor of a complete repeal of Obamacare.

When I criticized them for not doing their homework, TPN attacked me, saying:

@LFRGary If I had a nickel for every time a liberal told us we were losing credibility, we’d be rich.

I don’t know who’s runnning communications for TPN but they’re overpaid if they’re getting paid. First, they support a liberal candidate, saying that she’s conservative. When I criticized them for supporting a liberal, they criticized me by calling me a liberal.

Frankly, it’s time to start holding these celebrities’ feet to the fire. They’re celebrities who don’t think they have to do their research. I shot TPN’s, Sarah Palin’s and Citizens United’s endorsements down in less than 15 minutes each.

Eric Cantor lost because voters perceived him as thinking he was too important to worry about his constituents. Celebrity TEA Party organizations lost because they didn’t support Brat.

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Last night, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel’s brother and one of President Obama’s health insurance reform advisors, got caught spinning himself into the ground. About 3:15 into this video, Dr. Emanuel did some fancy tapdancing:

Here’s the confrontation between Megyn Kelly and Dr. Emanuel:

MEGYN KELLY: 5,000,000 people have already been cancelled so I’m not talking about the 7,000,000 people you guys are talking about.
DR. EMANUEL: That’s not a reliable number.
MEGYN KELLY: It’s at least 3,000,000 and the reports out tonight are that it’s closer to 5,000,0000.
DR. EMANUEL: Only on Fox is it 5,000,000.

It’s totally predictable that Dr. Emanuel would resort to that tactic when trapped. Dr. Emanuel was part of the original staff in the White House that insisted that Fox News wasn’t a real news station. With that bunch, which included Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Anita Dunn and David Plouffe, their first mission was to totally discredit Fox News. They failed in that attempt. That isn’t the important part of the interview, though. This is:

DR. EMANUEL: No, that’s not right, Megyn. You’ve got the numbers wrong. 7,000,000 includes the people who were expected from the individual market…

President Obama stated emphatically and repeatedly that people could keep their health plans if they liked it and that they could keep their doctors if they liked them. Last week, he said that people could keep their health care plan if they liked their plan and it met the Obama administration standards. Those statements are opposites. If one is true, the other can’t be true. This quote seems appropriate here:

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

At the Health Care Summit in Feb., 2010, Eric Cantor predicted that 7,000,000-8,000,000 people in the individual markets would lose their policies if the bill didn’t get changed. At the time, President Obama admitted that would happen, adding that people losing their policies would be able to replace those policies with better, less expensive policies.

One thing that’s been totally clear from the start has been Republicans’ contempt for the Affordable Care Act. George Will expressed it beautifully during last night’s SROnline show after the broadcast show. Here’s what Mr. Will said that I totally agree with:

This poor devil, like the other poor devils in 49 other states, is subject to a dumb law that prevents people from shopping for insurance across state lines. Turn on your TV tonight. You’re gonna see State Farm, GEICO, All State, Progressive. You don’t see that in health care because state legislatures want us captive so they can force us to buy things we don’t want to buy.

That’s one of the good things about this — well, there’s 2 good things — Juan regrets the loss of confidence. I’m for a loss of confidence in this type of government. What we need is far less of this type of government.

Here’s Juan Williams’ response to George Will, followed by Will’s response to Williams:

WILLIAMS: I know what you’re winning about. You’re trying to scuttle the whole thing.
WILL: Correct.

This is important. Republicans should learn from Mr. Will. First, don’t hesitate in stating your informed opinion why the Affordable Care Act should be scuttled. The key is having an informed opinion. Cookie cutter or tit-for-tat criticism of the ACA won’t suffice. Confidently explaining the different ways that the ACA is hurting families, especially middle class families, is a political winner because it’s a substantive winner. This isn’t about good politics or partisanship.

Opposing the ACA is the right thing to do because it isn’t delivering, indeed can’t deliver, on the major promises of insuring everyone and lowering health care costs.

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This video is a how-to instructional on how to play a bad hand poorly:

First, it’s amazing how shrill the Democrats are. The American people have tuned House Democrats out, starting with Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. Here’s what Hoyer said:

HOYER: It is a blatant attempt at hostage-taking.

After that, Ms. Pelosi added this:

PELOSI: What is brought to the floor today is, without a doubt, without a doubt, a measure designed to shut down government.

Hoyer is disgraceful. What’s worse is that his mini-diatribe fits with what a drama queen, not a congressman, would say. Unfortunately, it fits with language from President Obama’s whining diatribe in Kansas City, MO. As for Ms. Pelosi’s whining, she knows there won’t be a shutdown. Talk about a shutdown is just that: talk. It’s all about the things the DC echochamber repeats, not what Main Street America thinks about.

The reality is that people want the PPACA repealed. They’ve wanted that since the bill was passed. In fact, the ercentage of people that didn’t want it passed pretty much equals the percentage of people that want it repealed.

During his presentation in KS Friday, President Obama accused Republicans of attempting to mess with him:

“They’re not focused on you,” the president told about 2,000 Ford autoworkers gathered on the floor of the stamping plant. “They’re focused on politics. They’re focused on trying to mess with me.”

The dirty little secret is that President Obama isn’t focused on the middle class. He’s focused on not having his signature legislation, a bill the American people didn’t want, defunded. A hour before the start of a new fiscal year, a continuing resolution will be passed, which President Obama will sign.

The other thing that isn’t being highlighted by the dead tree media is something that Eric Cantor said yesterday:

Speaking at a rally where Republican leaders cheered the House’s passage of a government spending bill that would permanently strip funding from the Affordable Care Act, Cantor called out by name each red state Senate Democrat facing reelection: Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.). As the majority leader asked what those Democrats were doing to protect their states from Obamacare, audience members cheered loudly and applauded his remarks.

“Many Senate Republicans have promised to leave no stone unturned in fighting for this bill, and all of us here support that effort,” Cantor said. “We are calling on Senate Democrats to do the same thing.”

“I want to know where Senator Pryor stands on protecting the middle class,” he added. “How about Kay Hagan in North Carolina? Does she understand the consequences that Obamacare is having in her state?”

“What about Mary Landrieu of Louisiana?” Cantor continued. “And finally, what about Mark Begich of Alaska? … Will he vote to keep Obamacare in place?”

Cantor has disappointed conservatives for not enthusiastically backing the defund Obamacare legislation. That criticism is justified. Still, he’s right to highlight these vulnerable Democrats’ votes right before fighting to win uphill re-election fights. That, more than anything else, is what these votes are about.

The other thing President Obama doesn’t want America focusing on is the fact that he shoved the PPACA down Americans’ throats, thanks in large part to Harry Reid’s and Nancy Pelosi’s arm-twisting. Americans hate each of the major provisions in the PPACA, from the tax increases to the individual and employer mandates. They don’t like the skyrocketing premiums, either.

Apparently, President Obama doesn’t care about that. President Obama cares about saving face. There’s no proof that the PPACA will lower health care costs, give people health care or insure more people.

For all of their drama queen language, President Obama, Ms. Pelosi and Steny Hoyer know what will happen. Thanks to the GOP hardliners, vulnerable Democrats have to vote for an unpopular bill heading into an election year.

That’s why Democrats are whining like drama queens.
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According to TPM, This administration is yapping that not taking his American Jobs Act seriously will cost Republicans in the next election:

The White House Monday continued its war of words with House Republicans over their unwillingness to move his entire jobs package, confidently vowing to let voters decide how to react to Republicans’ refusal to pass provisions such as infrastructure spending and retaining teachers.

“Congress can take it up, vote on it…then if there’s a desire to take things out, we would accept that although we would not be satisfied by that…[President Obama] would say, ‘Where’s the rest of it? What about teachers and construction workers…or incentives to hire veterans?” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters during a briefing Monday.

This is laughable. President Obama can’t talk Senate Democrats into sponsoring his bill. Harry Reid is saying that it’ll be awhile before the bill gets consideration. In fact, it was reported that Democrats didn’t even have enough Democrat votes to reach a simple majority at a time when they need 60 votes to pass it.

It’s difficult taking seriously a man’s threats when his own political party isn’t enthusiastically supporting him.

Nothing’s changed since the last hard poll, aka the last election. That election was mostly seen as an emphatic refutation of this administration’s policies.

Considering the fact that people trust Republicans more than Democrats on the issues of the economy, the debt and spending, why should Republicans worry? When the campaigns kick in in earnest next year, Republicans will publish both their vision going forward and the lengthy list of legislation that they passed as solutions for America’s most difficult problems.

It’d be different if Republicans were doing nothing except rejecting President Obama’s initiatives. Though that’s this administration’s storyline, it isn’t reality. When the reality is ‘published’ in campaign commercials, the results will be predictable: a bad election cycle for Democrats will turn into a rout.

It isn’t like much of President Obama’s Son of Stimulus is popular. It isn’t like a person’s going to go into the voting booth and say “my congressman didn’t vote for the infrastructure repairs in the American Jobs Act. I simply can’t vote for him.”

There’s a couple of nice ideas in the legislation but there isn’t a thing in the bill that’s a vote-changer. The only exception to that is the debt that this bill will create.

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This article says President Obama is frustrated with Congress. Speaking on behalf of the majority of the American people, We The People are frustrated that President Obama ignored the economy during the first half of his term in office.

President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign sent an email to campaign supporters under his name Wednesday with the subject line “frustrated”, critiquing Congress for failing to focus on the critical issues facing the country.

“It’s been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on. I know that you’re frustrated by that. I am, too,” the message said, adding that Obama will lay out his own proposals in a speech to Congress next week.

The standoffish email says Obama will push Congress to act, but “whether they will do the job they were elected to do is ultimately up to them.”

President Obama’s whining is getting tiring. He’s whining that Republicans aren’t focusing on creating jobs. That’s insulting.

President Obama spent his first 2 years in office essentially ignoring the economy. Congress passed a stimulus bill right after President Obama’s inauguration. The next thing he tackled was health care. He didn’t return to creating jobs after that.

He’s talked about pivoting to jobs so many times that people are tired of the speeches.

We’ve reached the point where we need him to stop implementing policies that hurt robust job growth. He’s unleashed the EPA to essentially destroy the coal-mining industry. He’s unleashed the NLRB to destroy Boeing’s attempt to build luxury jetliners in right-to-work South Carolina.

They’re still writing the regulations for Dodd-Frank, which isn’t helping create jobs. Obamacare is a regulatory and tax increase nightmare.

What’s worst is that President Obama thinks people still trust in his ability to create jobs. We don’t to the tune of 26% approve, 71% don’t approve. He either thinks people still trust him or he’s pretending to think we still trust him.

Thankfully, the Republican House of Representatives will pass a competing set of job-creating economic legislation:

Cantor vowed to pursue a “steady repeal” of select regulations to empower businesses to kick up hiring. He listed 10 in particular, many dealing with Environmental Protection Agency policies, including new requirements on employers using boilers, and regulations affecting cement plants.

The EPA has absolutely killed jobs. If they hadn’t pursued such a radical agenda, we’d be consistently creating jobs. What’s more is that we’d be creating alot of jobs this month.

President Obama’s tanking job approval ratings are the direct result of the American people’s rejection of his economic agenda.

Another thing that’s galling is that President Obama says he’ll present a list of bipartisan measures in next week’s ‘Pivot to jobs’ speech. (I think that’s PTJ 9.0) As usual, President Obama thinks that he’s the arbiter of all things extreme and mainstream.

We The People don’t trust his judgment on what’s extreme and what’s mainstream. We’ll trust our judgment on what’s mainstream and what isn’t.

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I didn’t know this but after reading this post on TPM, I’m informed that an anti-earmark hysteria is sweeping through the GOP in DC. If TPM is declaring it, then it must be true.

After all, it isn’t like TPMDC is some far left, Soros-funded, distribute-the-wealth website that used to accept everything that proceeded from President Obama’s or Speaker Pelosi’s mouth as gospel fact.

On second though, I’d better retract those opening paragraphs.

Here’s TPM’s declaration:

“if you look at non-security, then it’s about $88 billion, or about 20 percent below what’s in the omnibus [spending bill],” says Jim Horney, a fiscal policy expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The omnibus spending bill, which would have funded the federal government through September 2011, died in the Senate last week, a victim of the anti-earmark hysteria that’s overcome the GOP.

I would’ve sworn that Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker piled tons of earmarks into last week’s defeated omnibus spending bill. I must’ve gotten that wrong.

The basis for TPM’s diatribe is the House GOP’s reiteration that they intend on following through on significant budget cuts:

This week, Congress is expected to continue funding the government at current levels through early March, at which point a newly Republican House of Representatives will get to take an axe to the federal budget. Naturally, they’re promising dramatic cuts in non-defense spending.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen here today, or tomorrow, or Sunday in terms of how we keep the government funded,” said soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner at his weekly press conference last week. “But what I can tell you is all you have to do is go to the Pledge to America and we outline pretty…clearly that we believe that spending at ’08 levels is more than sufficient to run the government.”

One of the line items that the House GOP plans on not including in the omnibus is the $1,000,000,000 in funding for implementing Obamacare. With the GOP being unwilling to implement Obamacare and with public opinion consistently saying they favor repeal of Obamacare, the likelihood of that being defunded appears to be strong.

The midterms proved that there’s a great hunger for getting spending under control. Starting today, I’ll start refering to this midterm as the election where voters said they wanted the deficits brought under control by Congress cutting spending.

At one of the presidential debates, then-Sen. Obama said that there was a need to cut spending but not with a cleaver “but with a scalpel.” After the Obama/Pelosi/Reid spending binge, I’d argue that it’s time to get out the meat cleavers because spending increased at unsustainable rates.

This wasn’t just a matter of degrees in spending. This was a spending binge of historic proportions. This isn’t something where a little trimming around the edges will fix things. This is the type of spending binge where eliminating spending increases from 2009-2010 are perfectly in order.

I wrote in this post about the Heritage Foundation’s spending cuts. Based on the descriptions of what’s being cut, I’d argue that cutting these items would barely be noticed by the general public.

It’s time that the Democrats realized that a) this election’s message was that they spent way too much money in way too short a period of time and b) this is the start of the sane reaction to their spending overreaction.

In short, it’s time that Democrats got over it.

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The latest MPR polling that shows Sen. Dayton tied with Rep. Emmer isn’t good news for Sen. Dayton. Some lefty bloggers see this as proof of Sen. Dayton winning. I don’t know how they reached that conclusion but it’s the wrong conclusion.

One lefty post cited an oversampling of Republicans as a polling flaw. That’s a legitimate point if you’re basing it solely off of party registration. After filtering it through the enthusiasm gap currently favoring Republicans, that oversampling might not mean much.

Here’s MNPublius’ take:

First of all, it was a somewhat small sample of 750 people, with an estimated margin of error of 5.3 percentage points. That means one candidate could have as much as a 10-point lead, even if that is fairly unlikely. Even worse is the methodology: The poll was based on a “landline, random-digit dial survey.”

Landline? Are you kidding me? I wonder how many younger voters were missed. Not having a landline, I could never have been contacted for this poll.

Had this been 2008 & they were polling for President Obama, I’d say that the youth votes missed would’ve been significant. Since this is a poll measuring the 2010 gubernatorial race featuring Sen. Dayton, I’m betting that number is tiny.

I’d also argue that this shouldn’t be that close of a race considering the fact that Tom Emmer’s been badly outspent. The Dayton shadow campaign’s negative ads aren’t having the effect that the Dayton family was hoping for.

It’s my opinion that Mitch Berg’s exposing ABM as the Dayton shadow campaign has created a backlash against ABM & against Sen. Dayton. I’d bet that unafilliated voters especially don’t like that type of dirty tricks campaigning.

When Sen. Dayton called for keeping the campaign focused on the issues, the Minnesota Republican Party highlighted the fact that the Dayton family had funded the dirty advertising campaign against Tom Emmer. I’m betting that the Dayton campaign’s dirty tricks have created a backlash against Sen. Dayton.

It’s also worth noting that the Emmer plan for restructuring government will come out soon. When that happens, there’s bound to be alot of scrutiny of the plan. When people find out that Rep. Emmer is the only candidate that’s serious about keeping government costs down, that’s going to have a positive impact which will favor the Emmer campaign.

While it’s true that the horserace numbers show a tie, the undelying campaign indicators favor Tom Emmer. The Dayton campaign should be worried about this poll.

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After reading this article and after following this race closely for the last 6 months, it’s time to make a statement about the Florida Senate race.

It’s time for Gov. Crist to do the honorable thing and drop out of the race entirely. Running as an independent won’t help Gov. Crist win. It will only burn the bridges he’s built within the Republican Party of Florida.

Yes, I know about the poll showing Crist with a tiny, inside-the-margin lead in a 3-way race between Gov. Crist. Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek. As Gov. Crist knows, that lead is misleading because it’s a sample of registered voters, not likely voters.

Gov. Crist knows firsthand that there’s a huge intensity gap between Marco Rubio, Gov. Crist and Kendrick Meek and that that enthusiasm gap strongly favors Marco Rubio.

If Gov. Crist opts for running as an independent, the NRSC will support Marco Rubio:

The toughest assessment came from the arm of the national Republican Party that had clamored to endorse Crist and shove aside rival Republican Marco Rubio nearly one year ago, when their positions in the polls were reversed.

“We believe there is zero chance Gov. Crist continues running in the Republican primary,” said Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senate Committee, in a memo. “It is our view that if Gov. Crist believes he cannot win a primary, then the proper course of action is he drop out of the race and wait for another day.”

The memo added that Texas Sen. John Cornyn, NRSC chairman, would have delivered the advice personally, if Crist had returned his phone call.

Gov. Crist knows that this is his high-water mark in a three-way race. After this, the GOP endorsements will go to Marco Rubio. Eric Cantor’s endorsement of Mr. Rubio this morning is proof of that:

Miami, FL – Today, U.S. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced his endorsement of Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate. As the Republican Whip, Congressman Cantor is the second highest-ranking Republican in the United States House of Representatives.

“We are a nation at a crossroads, and we need responsible leadership in Washington. Marco Rubio is just the type of leader our country needs and will make an excellent Senator for the State of Florida. The Obama Administration is working hand-in-hand with Senate Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi to fundamentally change the America we know and love.

“Washington spends way too much, and Marco understands the need for a limited but effective government. He knows that it’s not enough just to talk about ending government waste, but that actions are needed to begin to erase our deficits and free our children from our debt. This Administration’s policies have put a squeeze on our nation’s job creators and entrepreneurs, and Marco will help fight for pro-growth policies that empower the American entrepreneur and small business people to thrive and create sustainable jobs.

“When it comes to defending our country, I know that Marco understands the differences between America’s friends and its foes. We can trust Marco Rubio to take an aggressive stance against radical jihadism and strongly defend America’s special relationship with Israel. America needs energetic, smart, responsible leaders to start making sure that Washington once again starts working for the people, and Marco will play a big part in that effort.”

With Congressman Cantor’s announcement, Marco said, “I’m proud to have Congressman Cantor’s support and his endorsement. He has been a leader in not only standing up to the Obama agenda but also offering clear conservative alternatives. When Charlie Crist and President Obama were campaigning together for the stimulus, Eric was rallying Republicans to stand united and offering conservative alternatives that would have cost less but created jobs. We need leaders in Washington that can be trusted to stand with conservative leaders like Congressman Cantor, instead of joining President Obama to support wasteful stimulus spending, costly cap-and-trade energy taxes, higher taxes and even greater debt.”

Congressman Cantor is a fifth-term congressman representing the Seventh District of Virginia. In December 2008, he was elected to serve as the Republican Whip. Cantor is one of a new breed of top young conservative leaders, who, as the Republican Whip, has helped lead the fights against the Democrats’ wasteful stimulus, cap-and-trade and out-of-control spending. He also holds a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee and serves as Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

Eric Cantor knows a bit about fiscal conservatives and limited government because he’s got a great track record on those issues. In addition to his votes for fiscal discipline, Rep. Cantor has played an integral role in getting every Republican to vote against Obamacare, Cap And Trade, the Stimulus and the Omnibus spending bills funding government.

Rep. Cantor knows that re-inforcements are needed in the Senate. That’s why he’s endorsing Marco Rubio. He knows that Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, John Barrasso and other fiscal conservatives need company.

From here on out, Crist has to know that he’s gotten his last GOP endorsement. He’s got to know that his message isn’t resonating with Floridians. All he has left is cash on hand. When you don’t have an appealing message, that cash won’t help.

It’s time for Gov. Crist to bow out gracefully. Otherwise, his political career will be over this November.

UPDATE: John McCain just announced that he won’t support Gov. Crist if Gov. Crist runs as an independent. Should Gov. Crist run as an independent, he’ll do so without the blessing of GOP moderates.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative